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Taxi firm Uber could be putting passengers and the public at risk by letting its employees work more than 80 hours a week, Labour’s Rachel Reeves has said. South West Highways Limited has been fined £500,000 after the death of a worker who was struck by a vehicle. Judge Huw Rees at Caernarfon Crown Court said: “This was a cost-cutting exercise at the expense of the safety of employees and other people.” HSE news release. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 3 July 2015, two social workers employed by the London Borough of Brent visited the home of a vulnerable child to carry out a child safety plan assessment. The criminal safety breaches were identified at Plasterboard Recycling Solutions Ltd during a routine Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection of their premises in Bedfordshire.
A Spanish construction company has been fined £3 million over the death of a worker at a plant near Whitchurch in what was described as a “Russian Roulette” tragedy. A local authority has been fined after two of its social workers were assaulted on a home visit by the mother of a vulnerable child. A plasterboard recycling company has been fined for exposing workers to dust levels up to 20 times the legal limit. Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how Charter Housing Association Ltd reported six cases of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) following a health surveillance programme launched in June 2015.
Shopworkers are calling on the government to introduce an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties. Global footwear retailers should create transparent leather and shoe supply chains and take action to improve shoe workers’ rights, campaigners have said. Zoë Krupka, who is also a postgraduate researcher at the Faculty of Health Sciences at La Trobe University, Australia, commented: “We’re working longer hours than ever before, and as our employment conditions continue to worsen, they’re simply repackaged into a new version of normal in an effort to make the truly pathological state of many of our workplaces appear acceptable.” The Conversation. Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 29 September 2016, the four-year-old pupil, who had been at St Joseph’s RC Primary School for three weeks, was allowed to use the girls’ toilet unsupervised, and was found by staff with her fingers trapped in the hinges of the toilet door. “Confronted on a daily basis by human misery, violence and the worst that you can find in humans, police can no longer put up with a lack of consideration towards them, which is a factor in these tragic acts,” said the Unité-SGP police union.
Many are working when sick, working unpaid overtime and going throughout the year without a paid holiday, the Opinium survey commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found. The gig is up: Trade unions tackling insecure work, TUC, June 2017. Channelling workers to workplace wellness practitioners but not addressing the problems rooted in the job is not going to make things better, a wellness practitioner has warned. The board of governors at a primary school has been fined after a reception pupil lost part of a finger after it was trapped in a toilet door. The French government has been forced to act after eight police officers including a high-profile former police chief killed themselves in the same week. It overturned an appeal court's decision in the case of Lee Yoon-jung, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at age 30 and died two years later.
An investigation into the Croydon tram crash has found workers feared reporting mistakes and operators failed to take enough safety measures and understand the risk of a vehicle overturning. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says Ontario should follow the lead set by the province of Manitoba “and extend PTSD coverage to all workers.” Ontario Ministry of Labour news release. GAO report highlights, recommendations and full report.
Beards, stubble and respiratory protective equipment, Unite guidance, 2017. A union in the Canadian province of Ontario has welcomed a change to the law that will guarantee compensation to more workers suffering work-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – but says the proposals should be extended to cover all affected workers. China Labour Bulletin reports that about 80 per cent of the workforce had complained of dizziness, headaches, coughing, weakness and blurred vision since the factory relocated to a new facility in September. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has difficulty addressing workers’ safety concerns because many won’t contact the agency for fear of employer retaliation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said.
BALPA news release and Class 1 Medical requirements on the CAA website. A 21 December 2017 statement by leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom on progress by the working group on bullying and harassment in parliament reveals not enough progress has been made, unions have said. There has been a sharp rise in the number of work-related stress compensation cases among teaching staff in Scotland, the union EIS has said. The move takes the possibility of manslaughter charges off the table and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will now have ‘assumed primacy’ in the investigation into the 7 July 2016 tragedy. The report from the independent think tank the Institute of Employment Rights comes eight years after the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found evidence that thousands of workers had been locked out of employment in the construction industry for highlighting dangerous working practices or being a member of a trade union. Two companies that admitted criminal health and safety breaches following the death of a Suffolk road worker have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling nearly £2 million. Early indications are that around two-thirds of the previously denied occupational disease claims made by former employees at the GE plant in Peterborough, Ontario - one of Canada’s oldest industrial operations – are being overturned.
The TUC is developing exciting new ways to train its legions of union safety reps. An industry challenge to a new occupational silica rule has been rejected in its entirety by a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals. Polling for the TUC discovered 1 in 7 victims of sexual harassment said it took place at a work social event. The TUC has called on employers not to force staff to make hazardous journeys into work when the weather turns particularly nasty. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson was commenting after environment secretary Michael Gove announced new legislation to protect animals. FBU news releases on the Grenfell appointment and record rescue figures. In a letter to the company, the union had issued a strong warning about the “major” hygiene and health and safety issue on VTEC trains. The new study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, focused on the impact of ‘interactional justice’, which relates to the treatment of employees by managers. ‘It’s not OK’, a special report from magazine, notes: “Sexual harassment is an everyday fact of working life for many women, too ordinary to interest the media and too scared or concerned for their jobs to cry for help.” It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Two fifths of women and a fifth of men in the UK say they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work, an in-depth poll for the BBC has found.
Every health and safety representative recognises the benefit of good trade union training, says Jackie Williams of TUC Education, noting it is what gives reps the skills to do their lifesaving, life enhancing job and to keep a safe distance from the employer. Rail union RMT has predicted that over a million more trains a year will run without safety critical guards on the five companies with whom the union is currently in dispute - Greater Anglia Railway, Merseyrail, Northern Rail, Southern Rail and South Western Railway. Richard Trumka, president of the US national union federation AFL-CIO, said the court ruling was a ‘huge victory’ for working people, adding: “The court rejected industries’ arguments and directed the agency to further consider additional union safety recommendations.” AFL-CIO news release. TUC news release and resources: Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. The union body says that while workers should make every effort to get in, employees shouldn’t attempt to travel if it’s not safe to do so, particularly if they live in isolated areas. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs news release and draft bill. The Com Res Sexual Behaviour Survey for BBC News also fond that in those in flexible work - including zero hours contracts, self-employed, freelancer and gig economy workers – 43 per cent had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, compared to 29 per cent of those with permanent jobs.
The statement commits parliament to a new independent complaints and grievance procedure. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the union had “observed an alarming rise in the number of cases of work-related stress illness and injury claims over the past few years.” EIS news release. IER news release and report, Blacklisting: The Need for a Public Inquiry, IER, December 2017. The owners of a farm have been ordered to pay almost £100,000 after a scrap metal collector was electrocuted when his crane hit overhead power lines. Sentencing Kier Integrated Services and Ipswich-based Sean Hegarty Ltd, Judge Martyn Levett said the death of 34-year-old Aidan Gallagher in 2014 was “avoidable”.
Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy, Hansard, 21 December 2017. Edward Evans, 52, was killed as he attempted to collect broken lightweight metal cages by prior arrangement, from Holme Farm in Ince on 17 January 2015.
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Trade unions have reiterated their call for a stron g International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention to tackle gender-based violence at work.